Don’t Try These Promotional Tactics At Home! Vol #2


Usage Of Mike Von Erich’s Near Death. (1985)

Mike Von Erich never wanted to be a wrestler like his brothers. He wanted to be a cameraman for WCCW. He also expressed desire to be a musician outside the industry. Despite this, Mike made his wrestling debut in his father’s (Fritz Von Erich) promotion WCCW in 1983 at the age of nineteen.

In August 1985, he picked up a shoulder injury in a match which required surgery. He was released in good condition, but only four days later devolped a fever of 107 °F (42 °C). After further diagnosis it was found he had contracted toxic shock syndrome from the surgery, a potentially fatal illness caused by a bacterial toxin.

While he was ill, WCCW was planning his return. The promotion rushed him back after holding a press conference at the hospital he was staying at.

Mike returned to wrestling some months later despite looking smaller and not having the wrestling ability he had before. It was later confirmed Mike had suffered brain damage from the fever which led to his downward spiral. WCCW claimed it was a “living miracle”, promoting his big return before putting him back in the ring in tag team matches with his brothers.

Exploitation Of The Death Of Gino Hernandez (1986)

Gino Hernandez was found dead in his home in early 1986 following an angle which involved him “blinding” his rival Chris Adams. It was originally labeled a homicide, but after further investigation officials ruled it a cocaine overdose. Many wrestlers debunked this in interviews and said he “knew people in the wrong circles” who could have done it. Either way, a killer was never found and his death was yet another tragedy to befall WCCW.

Chris Adams returned to England after the blinding angle to keep kayfabe and have a short holiday break. While Bill Mercer announced the death of Gino Hernandez in the right way, the company made video packages which treat the tragedies of Gino’s death and the kayfabe blindness of Chris Adams with equal sadness. Those who were aware of Adams kayfabe injury saw the video packages as insulting to Gino’s memory.

Exploitation Of The Death Of Mike Von Erich (1987)

In the two years after the surgery, he suffered with the after effects of the fever, had been in-and-out of prison, and crashed his car several times. His behaviour grew more erratic. He was known to take his anger out on inanimate objects in front of his brothers while letting them know how much he hated his condition.

After trying so hard to live up to his father’s and fans expectations, he left two suicide notes before committing suicide by overdose of sleeping pill Placidyl and alcohol. It took time for the police to find his body in a sleeping bag in some underbrush. He was only 23 years old.

To tribute Mike, WCCW changed their David Von Erich show (who died in ’84 in controversial circumstances) in to the David & Mike memorial show. They charged extra for VIP tickets, and even went as far to have a female mud wrestling match. Not in good taste at all … but it happened. RIP Mike.

Fritz Von Erich’s Fake Heart Attack (1988)

Fritz collapsing on television was met with negative response by critics. Some assumed Fritz was doing a “heart attack” angle, and would play to the sympathy of fans depending on attendance. But after further research it seems it was Fritz’s last appearance, and commentary never mentioned ‘heart attack’ or played off the families recent deaths.

But it certainly was bad timing. After years of tragedy Fritz and WCCW played the angle to place heat on the Freebirds, and in a way it worked. Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer ridiculed it and labeled it as a “fake heart attack” which was proved wrong later when Fritz was asked about it. The angle continues to be talked about, because it stirred up the critics and got heat on the Freebirds while keeping kayfabe.

Yet, you can see why some found it to be in bad taste, it wasn’t so long ago they held the David & Mike memorial show, so to put their fans through losing another Von Erich? You can see why many assumed. Had his sons not died so close together and this angle played out, it would have been praised as “one of the best of the year”. I managed to find footage of the angle, and the further selling of it on the show which followed it.

Thanks for reading everyone. What I have delivered to you today is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Von Erichs and WCCW. It was a nightmare, and I cannot honestly describe the many controversial events in one piece. But luckily enough for anyone who may be interested, I found an article by Irvin Muchnick which outlines the story of the Von Erichs in graphic detail and be read here >>> The Von Erich story

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